Bill Walsh on Dealing with Players

March 27, 2018

One of Bill Walsh’s strength was his ability to communicate with all of the players on his team. He believed that a head coach must act responsibly and professionally in his dealings with the players.  Here are some of his beliefs about handling the individual players on your team.

  1. Have Answers– The head coach must have answers to the team’s problems.  The players look to him for direction, advice and counsel in football and in their everyday lives.
  2. Treat each player as a unique person– Developing a sincere interest in each player is critical to developing trust with them.
  3. Work with the individual player– Talking to the entire team is important, but the head coach needs to spend some one on one time with the individual player about things both on and off the football field.  Take him to the chalk board, show him film, and talk to him about his family. It will build his self confidence and feel that you have confidence in him. Be careful about spending too much time with one player or with the best players.
  4. Determine how each player best responds to instruction-comprehends new information, maintains attention span, etc.
  5. Understand the players’ moods and demeanors and how best to handle their bad days. They react to issues differently. Get to know them and anticipate the responses to difficult situations.
  6. Search for new ways to teach your material on and off the field that might allow them to learn and keep their attention. Coaches should be life long learners.
  7. Exhibit strength, persistence and consistency in dealing with players and discipline situations. Hold your players to the highest of expectations.
  8. Be personal with your players but not too friendly.  Trying to be liked and socially accepted by the players will lead to problems concerning discipline and team building.
  9. Be natural in all of your dealings with the players. They can spot a phony a mile away. Don’t try to be something you are not.